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PREFACE
In sending forth this book on 'South London,' the successor to my two preceding books on 'London' and 'Westminster,' I have to explain in this case, as before, that it is not a history, or a chronicle, or a consecutive account of the Borough and her suburbs that I offer, but, as in the other two books, chapters taken here and there from the mass of material which lies ready to hand, and especially chapters which illustrate the most important part of History, namely, the condition, the manners, the customs of the people dwelling in this place, now, like Westminster, a part of London: yet, until two or three hundred years ago, an ancient marsh kept from the overflowing tide by an Embankment, joined to the Dover road by a Causeway, settled and inhabited by two or three Houses of Religious: by half a dozen Palaces of Bishops, Abbots, and great Lords: by a colony of fishermen living on the Embankment from time immemorial, since the Embankment itself was built: and by a street of Inns and shops.

I hope that 'South London' will be received with favour equal to that bestowed upon its predecessors. The chief difficulty in writing it has been that of selection from the great treasures which have accumulated about this strange spot. The contents of this volume do not form a tenth part of what might be written on the same plan, and still without including the History Proper of the Borough. I am like the showman in the 'Cries of London'—I pull the strings, and the children peep. Lo! Allectus goes forth to fight and die on Clapham Common: William's men burn the fishermen's{vi} cottages: little King Richard, that lovely boy, rides out, all in white and gold, from his Palace at Kennington—saw one ever so gallant a lad? The Bastard of Falconbridge bombards the city: Sir John Fastolfe's man is pressed into Jack Cade's army: the Minters make their last Sanctuary opposite St. George's: the Debtors languish in the King's Bench. There are many pictures in the box—but how many more there are for which no room could be found!

I must acknowledge my obligations, first, to the Editor of the Pall Mall Magazine, where half of these chapters first had the honour of appearing, for the wealth of illustration of which he thought them worthy: and next to the artist, Mr. Percy Wadham, who has so faithfully and so cunningly carried out the task committed to him.

WALTER BESANT.
United University Club:
September 1898.


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